Dating when each partner has children can be complicated, hard, and, at times, tiresome. That is a fact. Knowing this as we all do, we must figure out ways to make it work. The alternative to this is that we don’t date, or we have a lot of first dates and eventually our needs aren’t met and at times, we can end up resenting the last people on earth that we want to resent: our children.
So, what are some things we can do in this situation?
1. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
It is easy and rather common to get frustrated when you are really into someone and a scheduled date or phone call does not happen. It’s even worse when all is good on your side and they have to cancel for various reasons. And although you are aware that they have children, it may not be the first thing that comes to mind in that moment. That’s because you have children of your own and you have not had a lot of time to yourself so frustration will naturally set in. Just think, you both have children and whatever happened that forced them to cancel could easily happen to you.
2. Engage in only straight talk with your children.
One of the biggest challenges in dating when you both have children is just how each of your children deals with it. Parents are generally very sensitive to this; over sensitive in fact. The best thing a parent can do is be straight with their children.
Don’t hide the fact that your boyfriend or girlfriend has children of their own, don’t hide the fact that you are going out on a date when you line up a babysitter and don’t hesitate when it comes to telling your children about the seriousness of your relationship. I say all of this because if and when it gets to the point where the children are introduced or eventually co-mingled, it is vital that your children are going into it with eyes wide open and without any resentment or feeling that they have been left in the dark or left behind.
When children don’t know or have some but not all of the information, they will invent truths and they will not be pretty ones. They’re negative feelings and energy will also project onto your partner and their children.
3. Learn to love low-key dates.
I get it, when its adult time, the last thing you may want is to be cooped up in the same house that you are stuck in most hours of the day; you want to live; you want to dance, and you want to eat the food made from someone’s hand other than you own. You will get that chance, guaranteed. But not always, and you need to be okay with this.
If your boyfriend or girlfriend has a young one and their ex flaked out on watching them, you may be doing take-out and Redbox for a night. Put together twenty or so similar scenarios in your head and assume it will happen a couple times, because it will. This must be something that you prepare for and learn to enjoy. Besides, if the company is great, this really should be a walk in the park.
4. Set aside some time for your boyfriend/girlfriend.
I know what you’re thinking—If only it were that easy! Well, it’s not but that is precisely why you need to do it. For example, what time do your children normally turn in? Add 30 minutes, because children never really turn in when you think they will, and pick two nights a week that will be easy for you to talk to your boyfriend or girlfriend. Hopefully, you have a good idea of when you have your children and when they are with the other parent.
When it comes to scheduling date nights, do not wing it. A lot of people want flexibility and they like to go with the flow but when both partners have children and ex’s and work schedules and friends and family, the importance of putting things on the calendar cannot be overstated. Besides, you make time for what matters, right? So, what matters to you?
5. Make time for you.
Remember that whole scheduling thing we just talked about? Good. Well, that applies to you as well. I have met so many clients who figure that any time outside of work and children should and will be dedicated to their boyfriend or girlfriend. To which I say, when do you get a breather?
Love is grand and finding someone you are gaga for is the bee’s knees and the wings but the truth is, we all require our own down time. We all need those moments when we can just take a bath, read a good book, and have girl or guy nights. Trust me when I say, even the most special of relationships can go sideways when two people spend each waking moment with each other and put no “me” time on the docket.